Thai troops will join peacekeepers in South Sudan
Troops from Thailand will join the United Nations peacekeeping force in the troubled African country of South Sudan, which became independent in 2011 but still suffers from violence and has been designated as the world’s most fragile state by the United States-based Fund for Peace think tank.
Kongcheep Tantrava, a spokesman for Thailand’s Ministry of Defense said last week that the Kingdom would dispatch 268 personnel to South Sudan as part of UNMISS, the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan. The mission was established in 2011 to nurture the new nation towards peace and stability, but South Sudan has still been plagued by civil war and ethnic violence.
The troops will join 10 Thai police officers already serving with the peacekeeping force. The Thai soldiers will come mostly from the engineering corps and participate mainly in the rebuilding of South Sudan. They are specialists in construction of roads, bridges and airports.
Other members of the Thai contingent will include ordinance disposal officers – specialists in removing land mines, IEDs (improvised explosive devices) and other deadly munitions left littered across the landscape by combatants and that continue to kill and maim innocent civilians long after conflicts have ended.
The decision to send the troops was made by the Council of Defense. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Cabinet of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha are expected to approve the decision, and the troops would most likely arrive in Africa in mid-December, Kongcheep said.
UNMISS has nearly 16,000 personnel from 60 countries serving or having served under its banner. Created by the U.N. Security Council, in 2014 the Council reprioritized its mandate towards the protection of civilians, human rights monitoring, and support for the delivery of humanitarian assistance and for the implementation of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement.
Thailand has been contributing personnel to U.N. peacekeeping missions since 1958 and has sent troops and others to some of the world’s most dangerous conflict zones.
Thai peacekeeping contingents often include a significant number of female troops and personnel. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs “The contribution of female peacekeepers on the ground cannot be overstated. Their presence helps gain trust and confidence from local women, especially in places where sexual exploitation and abuse are prevalent.”